Sections of the health care budget seem to be slowly being released as the Legislature and the Governor work feverishly to finalize the New York State budget this week. By all accounts in Albany, the New York State budget will be finalized by the end of this week.
We have received what appears to be a close-to-final summary of the Minimum Wage Act and Wage Parity Law amendments that would take effect upon the adoption of the final budget. As relevant to our readers, this document indicates that the Budget would amend the law to provide the following:
- The home care worker wage parity hourly amounts of $3.22 and $4.09 would be reduced by $1.55 effective as of January 1, 2024. This would result in a New York City wage parity rate of $2.54 (instead of $4.09) and the Long Island/Westchester rate of $1.67 (instead of $3.22). If this is indeed the final budget language, we expect that this will not only reduce the wages of those workers who receive their wage parity as a wage (instead of a benefit), but that the plans will also reduce their reimbursements. It remains to be seen whether any such reduction will be by $1.55 or $1.55+overhead. Providers are advised to very carefully implement any wage reductions; the New York Labor Law governs (with strict penalties for noncompliance) the process of reducing wages or changing benefits.
- The $1.00 minimum wage increase that is scheduled for October 1, 2023 would be postponed to January 1, 2024. The new law would also cap the minimum wage of home care workers at the general minimum wage + $3.00.
- The law would be amended to allow the Department of Health greater authority to collect information from payers and providers about the wages and benefits being paid to home care workers. The owners of agencies would need to certify that the payroll records they are providing to the Department are “true,” under penalty of perjury. Failure to make such payroll records available may result in immediate suspension of the agency from Medicaid (including MLTC Medicaid), and the Department of Health will be empowered to direct MLTCs to suspend any payments to the provider.
- The law would be amended to allow the Department of Health greater oversight over managed care organizations, including the contracted rates of payments between such plans and the providers. The stated intent of this amendment is to provide for greater transparency and better enforcement of wage violations. This amendment could also open the door to providers making more kickback-type complaints against plans related to rate-setting between plans and providers.
- The Verification Organization program would be void and replaced by EVV.
We do not yet have access to the other parts of the Budget that are being discussed, such as the potential repeal or amendment of the CDPAP RFO. We will provide an update as more information becomes available.